It would be completely unfair to punish all gun owners for the crimes committed by a carload of imbeciles who recently slaughtered antelope with an AK-47 sytle rifle along a more than 50-mile stretch of road west of Casper. They shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath.

But the fact is, the gun industry and its loud mouthpiece, the National Rifle Association, have made ownership of military-style weapons by civilians an issue they absolutely refuse to compromise on. As long as the NRA spouts the foolish, irrational argument that the Founding Fathers wanted us all to be able to own an AK-47 — or any weapon we desire — many observers will unfairly link responsible gun enthusiasts with those who endanger the lives of any people or wildlife they come near.

This outrageous poaching incident proves something we should all already know: No one needs a military-style weapon to hunt game animals. The misuse of such weapons and total disregard for everyone’s safety exhibited by these poachers makes reasonable people wonder why the gun lobby insists they must be legal to own.

There’s no need for assault rifles to be used by hunters, and there’s no justification for them to be used for home defense. There are plenty of weapons that can be used for both activities that are manufactured and legally accessible, so there’s no need for them to be made available to the miniscule number who want to own them solely to kill large groups of people or animals.

So let’s use some common sense, and strongly tell the gun lobby that it doesn’t speak for all gun owners. The responsible ones overwhelmingly (90 percent in some national polls) believe the government has the right to perform background checks for all gun purchases, even at gun shows, and to restrict criminals and the mentally ill from buying them. Even many NRA members acknowledge that owning an AK-47-style rifle isn’t necessary for homeowners or hunters.

People who buy the NRA’s position lock, stock and barrel are just pawns in a political game when they argue that the Second Amendment allows them to own any weapon they want to have. Some reasonable restrictions on weapons are necessary to keep the public safe from the actions of those who want to use the maximum firepower they can obtain so they can shoot up a political rally, a school, a shopping mall, workplace or range filled with wildlife.

Of course I know the Second Amendment says the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. But it also says it in the context of “a well-regulated militia,” and never states there is a right to bear “all” arms anyone has manufactured.

As I write this, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Casper regional office was still investigating what happened on Friday, Sept. 26, when a witness saw an SUV with what appeared to be four men inside driving west of Casper on 33-Mile Road. Shots from what was described as an AK-47-style rifle were fired across the lane of oncoming traffic, and multiple pronghorn antelope were killed in a crime scene that covered more than 50 miles.

The number of animals killed wasn’t released by Wyoming Game and Fish officials, and probably not all of them had been discovered a full week after the crime. That’s a massive amount of land to search.

Casper Game Warden Daniel Beach told County 10, a news website based in Fremont County, “As the investigation continues, the case just gets bigger.” The animals were left to rot, prompting Beach to add, “You can only imagine what we are finding.”

I, for one, don’t want to imagine it, but I can’t stop thinking about it. A Game and Fish spokesman said it’s unusual for assault rifles to be used by poachers in the state, but it has happened before. No matter what punishment is meted out to those responsible for the Mile-33 Road antelope killings, it could easily happen again.

But we can make it much harder for killers to obtain them. The federal ban on assault weapons that passed in 1994 — the Brady Act — was allowed by Congress to expire in 2004, and the politicians we’ve elected haven’t had the guts to seriously consider passing any other gun restrictions out of fear of the powerful NRA lobby. Even when assault weapons are used by the criminally insane to shoot politicians, students, former co-workers and total strangers, federal lawmakers consider their political careers much more important than the safety of the people they represent.

I’m glad to see the response to the antelope killings has been almost universal outrage and a hope that justice is done. The maximum penalty for being convicted of the wanton destruction of a big-game animal is up to a $10,000 fine and/or one year in prison. I hope whatever judge is assigned to hear this case considers the vileness of the crime and realizes the court needs to send a strong message to anyone who might consider doing the same thing.

I wrote “almost universal” because some extremist, tea party types seem to feel compelled to use the mere reporting of such crimes to launch a preemptive strike against anyone who might try to use the occasion to take away their guns. Sure enough, a commenter to County 10’s coverage of the story had this to say:

“Why even bring the absurd and meaningless political construct ‘assault rifle’ into the discussion? Some criminal/fool shot and wasted (poached) some antelope. The type of firearm (or bow even) is immaterial. The crime is in the action, not in the perceived ‘scariness’ of the firearm used.”

The same commenter postulated a pretty wild conspiracy theory. “No one can prove exactly WHAT type of firearm was used, except to say it fired a 7.62×39 cartridge… or at least those were the cartridge cases left at the scene,” he noted. “How do we know whether or not somebody simply dumped ‘AK-47 brass’ at the site(s) to throw off law enforcement and/or discredit 7.62×39 gun owners?”

Posing such a question shows precisely why it’s important to publicize the type of weapon used to kill multiple antelope. If that fact were left out, it would have made it easier for the writer to focus solely on the madness of the crime, and not what weapon made it possible to carry it out. If it didn’t matter at all, surely he wouldn’t have felt it necessary to go to such ridiculous lengths to suggest someone left certain cartridge cases at the crime scene to throw Game & Fish off the trail of the “real” poachers, or just make anyone with a semi-automatic rifle look bad.

That’s the kind of defensive reaction gun owners need to avoid if they are going to separate themselves from those who blindly defend the use of assault rifles no matter what or how they are used to kill.

Kerry Drake

Veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake has covered Wyoming for more than four decades, previously as a reporter and editor for the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle and Casper Star-Tribune. He lives in Cheyenne and...

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  1. “As long as the NRA spouts the foolish, irrational argument that the Founding Fathers wanted us all to be able to own an AK-47 — or any weapon we desire …”

    Except that isn’t what the NRA says. Ever. I’m a life member of the NRA and it’s clear you simply don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Nobody, including NRA members, condones poaching. Blaming this on the NRA is like blaming obesity on spoons.

    Lastly, your proposal to renew the Assault Weapons Ban will do exactly nothing to stop poaching. Most crimes are NOT committed with an AK or AR style rifle and when the ban WAS in placed it did NOTHING to stop or prevent crime, including poaching. The problem isn’t the type of rifle used. The problem is the user.

  2. I agree with Mike B’s first sentence – the people who shot the antelope were criminals who need to be punished to the full extent of the law. The Right to Bear Arms as provided by the U.S. Constitution is a separate issue. After the experience the framers of our Constitution had recently had with their former British overlords, it is no wonder that they included in the Constitution the right to bear arms, i.e. maintain a well regulated militia. Since we do not have a formal “well-regulated militia” these days, how else do we do accomplish that goal except to arm the common man. Does our “militia” need automatic weapons? Will the “enemy” have them?

  3. “No one should defend the type of weapon these poachers used.” In fact, nobody should defend any weapon in the hands of poachers, period. There is a larger point, though, in Mr. Drake’s disorganized prose. When various outdoor writers have ventured to make similar arguments in publications who take the advertising dollars of firearms manufacturers, they have been pilloried to the point of having to move on to “other opportunities” away from where they were just writing. (We even have the most notorious example of this kind of persecution in a writer who lives right here in Wyoming–howdy, Jim.) These writers were extremely foolish to write what they did, where they did, and I assume, believe there would be no serious consequences. You can’t cure stupid, and Mr. Drake’s essay was pretty much incurable. But in the Wyofile he was free to express his foolishness, without, I also assume, having to face betrayal at the hands of his editors and publisher. I am in favor of thought and opinion having to compete in the marketplace, but I am grateful as well to have a venue like the Wyofile where writers do not have to second-guess the reactions of advertisers to whatever they may misguidedly feel compelled to express. Facing outraged gun owners should be challenge enough.

  4. “No one should defend the type of weapon these poachers used.” In fact, nobody should defend any weapon in the hands of poachers, period. There is a larger point, though, in Mr. Drake’s disorganized prose. When various outdoor writers have ventured to make similar arguments in publications who take the advertising dollars of firearms manufacturers, they have been pilloried to the point of having to move on to “other opportunities” away from where they were just writing. (We even have the most notorious example of this kind of persecution in a writer who lives right here in Wyoming–howdy, Jim.) These writers were extremely foolish to write what they did, where they did, and I assume, believe there would be no serious consequences. You can’t cure stupid, and Mr. Drake’s essay was pretty much incurable. But in the Wyofile he was free to express his foolishness, without, I also assume, having to face betrayal at the hands of his editors and publisher. I am in favor of thought and opinion having to compete in the marketplace, but I am grateful as well to have a venue like the Wyofile where writers do not have to second-guess the reactions of advertisers to whatever they may misguidedly feel compelled to express. Facing outraged gun owners should be challenge enough.

    1. Great point. It is one of the reasons I read WyoFile on a regular basis, the writers and opinions can be expressed freely without offending a politically correct advertiser. The local newspapers (rags) often are marginally correct or supported by minimal facts at best – as well as difficult to read because the articles are often poorly written. On the other hand, the articles/features on WyoFile tend to be well thought out, well written, researched and for the most part an objective analysis of the issue at hand – with the exception of the garbage spewed forth by Mr. Drake on a weekly basis. Mr. Drake is so biased and his “writings” are based on distorted or marginal facts that he lacks much credibility anyway. They are entertaining though……..

  5. Mr. Drake, I would like to bring some figures to your attention to help you become better informed on this topic (from the National Safety Council):

    Murders committed between 2000-2013 using personal weapons (i.e. feet and fists): 4900- 800+ per year

    Murders committed between 2006-2011 using knives and cutting instruments: 11,000- about 1800 per year

    Murders committed by active shooters from 2000-2013 (by all types of firearms): 418- just under 30 per year

    2011 FBI data shows that there were 323 murders committed with rifles of any kind. However, guns defined as “assault weapons” by the federal government are not defined in any subcategory because they are used in crimes so infrequently – less than 0.5% (one-half of one percent) of all murders with guns in 2011, according to best estimates.

    A firearm is nothing more than a tool. Blaming a simple object for the actions of criminals completely ignores the true problem in this poaching case and all active-shooter incidents- a lack of moral ethics that seems to be increasing in our culture. I hope that if you choose to write about this subject again you will consider a more educated, original approach rather than regurgitating the same emotion-fueled arguments that countless authors have been using for years in support of an anti-gun agenda.

    “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” –John Adams (1770)

  6. Gee, Kerry, thanks for lumping all of we LAW-ABIDING GUNOWNERS, including military veterans and retirees (yours truly, included) with the vile scum that committed this horrific crime.
    I’ve owned, possessed, and shot REAL ASSAULT WEAPONS, and not once, NOT ONCE, have I used any firearm or other weapon in a criminal manner.
    You need to take a course on American Constitutional History, specifically regarding the meaning and construction of the Second Amendment. The Founders ABSOLUTELY INTENDED for We, the People, to possess the SAME FIREARMS AS THE “GOVERNMENT” (which we can’t do because of the NFA (s) of 1934 and 1938. The term “well regulated” as used in the Second Amendment and taken in the proper context of the time in which it was written means “well trained and equipped in the Art of War”. The term “militia” refers to the whole body of the people.
    Another thing: I hunt with a so-called “assault weapon” (actually several) chambered for 5.56x45mm/.223 Remington and 7.62x51mm/.308 Winchester. They are VERY ACCURATE, tough, and reliable AND EXPENSIVE firearms.
    I will agree that a terrible crime has been committed, and that those responsible should be locked up and the door to their cells welded shut. But DON’T YOU DARE place the blame on the NRA, lawful gunowners, and fans of AR/AK type firearms. And one other thing: THESE ARE NOT ASSAULT WEAPONS. They operate the same as my Remington 742.
    I believe an apology is in order, and we’re waiting.

  7. There _is_ good reason to use them for hunting — hunting with these weapons builds skills for using them in home defense. There is good reason to use them in home-defense — it gives future servicemen an opportunity to learn how to use them in case they’re ever surrounded and out of ammo, and can either surrender or use a battlefield pick-up taken from a dead enemy.

    That may not be a truly compelling reason. The most important reason for opposing a ban is if domestic law enforcement gets an exception to the ban that allows them to use such weapons. We want cops to be servants of the _people_ — not servants of the people’s _rulers_.

  8. This
    individual is not in touch, by choice or by simple ignorance, with the
    basis of the 2nd Amendment. It is not for hunting or home defense,
    although these are certainly ancillary issues protected by the 2nd
    Amendment, the real purpose is so we the people
    can protect ourselves against a tyrannical government who falls out of
    step with the Constitution to such a degree as to make it necessary to
    fight back. Similar arms are implied logically. “being necessary to
    the security of a free State”. We the people will decide what we
    believe is necessary to keep our State free from a heavy handed federal
    government.

  9. As long as governments believes they have the right to initiate force, the people need as much firepower as they can afford. Your argument against such weapons are childish and ignorant.

  10. The purpose of the Second Amendment is NOT about hunting or sports–and only secondarily about personal self-defense; the purpose of the Second Amendment is to ensure the people can overthrow a tyrannical government. Military-STYLED (looks like) weapons? Not good enough! We’re supposed to be armed with EXACTLY the type we might have to go up against–that means MACHINE guns whether sub or crew-served; grenades, Stinger missile launchers with their missiles (if you could afford one), RPGs; ANY thing that could be borne by a soldier.

    And if you think an armed civilian population can’t keep a government in check or overthrow a tyrannical one, just think of the trouble we have with a mere few tens of thousands of terrorists—and now imagine if even only 3% of the armed American public rose up in arms-(remember many private gun owner are military, former military, police and former police as well, who take seriously their oaths to the US Constitution-)–that would be about 3 millions–that’s more than 58,000 “soldiers” per state and the District of Columbia—Think about that!

    v/r

    SamAdams1776 III Oath keeper
    Molon Labe
    No Fort Sumters
    Qui tacet consentit
    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
    Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges.
    Idque apud imperitos humanitas vocabatur, cum pars servitutis esset.

  11. A lot of stereotypical clinging to guns here.

    I keep hearing about this need to counter the impending threat of (govt.) tyranny.
    This is pretty basic escalation 101. In order to match the tyrants, you’d need to match firepower. I’ll take this to its logical end; Does this suggest nuclear proliferation? Should citizens have access/rights to nukes? If its an inherent human right to protect oneself, does N. Korea have that right?

    My thesis: Advanced weaponry is a stand in for whatever loss of power, lack of education or other inferiority people (both blacks and whites) possess. Furthermore, most of the owners I know of these guns were never raised in a responsible gun-owning household. Even fewer have actually hunted and seen first hand the damage a long barrel can do to a mammal.

    For the record, I own a mossberg 12 gauge, a s&w 9mm, and a browning 7mm bolt action. I’ve hunted since I was 12, and very much enjoy the feeling of squeezing off a round. I dont worry that someone is coming for my guns (boogeyman or other), and feel that this rabid defense of military grade for the public hides some sort of complex imparted by the individual’s place in society. Furthermore, the accumulation of tens of thousands of dollars in firearms by a single individual parallels the behavior of hoarders and cat people. I have no sympathy when you cant afford clothes or college for your kid because you invested everything you have in g&a for a threat that will never materialize.

    1. Re: ” counter the impending threat of (govt.) tyranny.”

      You might want to talk to the Indians at Wounded Knee SD. The US government sent troops to confiscate all their weapons and in the process they slaughtered women and children and fleeing Indians and then to add insult to injury, rather than denouncing the action and apologizing, they sanctioned the whole event by awarding the participating soldiers more Medals of Honor than at any other battle in our history. The main point here is that governments hold the record for isolating and killing people who don’t agree with them and for those who say it won’t happen here – well it has.

      Re: “you’d need to match firepower’

      Not necessarily true. The US outmatched enemies in Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan and the enemies essentially won.

      Re: “I don’t worry that someone is coming for my guns”

      That’s your choice, but I tend to take people at their word especially when their words correlate well with their actions. For example in 1976 a gentleman by the name of Nelson Shields said the following “The first problem is to slow down the increasing number of handguns being produced and sold in this country. The second is to get handguns registered. And the final problem is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition – except for the military, policemen, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors – totally illegal.” Nelson Shields was one of the founders of Handgun Control Inc which is better know under their current “re-branded” name as The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. In 1987 another gentleman by the name of Josh Sugarmann said regarding so called assault weapons “The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.” In 1988 in response to an NRA comment about criminals always being able to get handguns he also said “The NRA is Right: But We Still Need to Ban Handguns”. Josh Sugarmann was one of the founders of The Coalition to Ban Handguns which is better know under their current “re-branded” name as The Campaign to Stop Gun Violence. While the names of these organizations have changed, the goals and a lot of the personnel remain the same.

      Also, more recently, we have Senator Diane Feinstein

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3DKuN2ey80&feature=player_embedded

      Re: “defense of military grade’

      The AR and AK rifle versions currently available to civilians may look like military grade firearms but they are not military grade. Except for some grandfathered firearms under the 1934 NFA act, military grade firearms have not been available to the general public since 1986.

      1. JSmith, you started strong, but then strawmanned me in to talking about fringe groups alluding to a ban on handguns. Never going to happen, plus this is about the AK and govt. tyranny. Comparing a current nation of 300m firearms to a 125 year old incident where 300 indians died is a stretch at best. Like condemning capitalism because of the slave trade – tenuous association across completely different eras.

        Maybe I should scale back my nuke talk on account of your astute point that the vietcong were under-armed and still put up a good fight. Happened in Fallujah as well. I’d still put a detachment of apache helicopters up against half the armed public of Wyo. Should we all be free to buy/operate armed apaches (inadvertent reference back to indians. Subliminal, maybe!)

        1. Re: “tenuous association across completely different eras”

          Wounded Knee, while it occurred in 1890, is relevant because a lot of people argue government tyranny or overreach won’t happen here because we’re Americans and we live in a democratic republic as opposed to a totalitarian dictatorship and hence are somehow “different” and “above that sort of thing”. Wounded Knee demonstrated our form of government is no different than any other government if they think they can get away with something. Just because we live in a modern age doesn’t mean the motivations and machinations of mankind have changed. If anything it’s become more insidious because the Internet and 24-hour news, opinion, and blog cycle makes it fairly easy to assassinate one’s character or credibility which means in my view the people seeking power in government will have a tendency to be two kinds of individuals – narcissistic psychopaths or sociopaths or squeaky clean people of impeccable integrity and moral character that have an overwhelming desire to want to make a difference. The problem is that at a superficial level, they both look and sound alike and it is difficult to tell them apart. The other problem is that people in the latter category can probably reach fulfillment in life without swimming in the cesspool of politics – So whom does that leave us with?

          Re: “alluding to a ban on handguns. Never going to happen”

          Well not directly and that’s why the gun control groups changed their strategy to try to make it inconvenient and onerous to own any firearm and to go after the low hanging fruit of “assault rifles” which are hardly ever used in homicides (358 people were murdered with rifles in 2010 and “assault rifles” are a subset of that number). However since most of the gun violence in this country involves handguns and after the so-called “assault rifles” are banned and the gun violence doesn’t stop, what do you think the government will try to do next? Will they say we banned the assault rifles so we don’t need to do anything else? With the current mentality that we can legislate our way to a risk free society and the legislative process being driven by emotion rather than facts, where do you think this is going to stop? You state the opinion that it’s “never going to happen” here. What’s the basis of your opinion? I base my opinion that it will happen here if we let it on the facts that it did happen in Great Britain, Australia and Canada and the ground work to implement it here is being laid in CA, CT and NY.

          Re: “I’d still put a detachment of apache helicopters up against half the armed public of Wyo.”

          In an asymmetric warfare situation, the value of this and other modern hardware of war is questionable especially if it is being used against American citizens by American citizens on American soil where there is likely to be a low tolerance for carnage or collateral damage. Also, such an operation would not be very pretty when you have part of the opposition population that is armed and willing to engage in guerilla tactics. You seem to think the purpose of civilians owning firearms is to take on the federal government. In my view guns in civilian hands aren’t likely to be used to fight the government but are instead an insurance policy and deterrent to any government overreach that compromises the “free state”. As an example, consider the Cliven Bundy incident in Bunkerville, NV in April of 2014. Bundy was clearly in violation of the law and the whole incident should have been settled through the courts. Instead the BLM decided to overreach and show up with their SWAT team to confiscate his BLM land and cattle and when several civilians responded with their firearms and threatened a confrontation with the BLM, the government didn’t call in their drones or Apaches (helicopters) to annihilate them but instead backed down when the armed civilians made it clear they would fight and several women and children were going to volunteer to be standing in front of the armed civilians as they approached the BLM compound to release his cattle. If the civilians didn’t have firearms, I’m pretty sure this would have ended differently.

          Re: “this is about the AK and govt. tyranny “

          I don’t think we currently have a tyrannically inclined government but there is no guarantee we won’t have one in the future if the environment evolves to permit it. In order for such a government to have an environment to take hold in this country, they first must get rid of civilian gun ownership to keep the transition quiet and tidy and for this reason I see the civilian ownership of firearms like an AK or AR as a warning sign – as long as I can own a one or buy one, the risk to the “free state” is minimal. Once these or other firearms are restricted or taken away, we are in a different ball game and the only way a non-totalitarian regime has to take them away is incrementally, which is what has been happening in the US since 1934.

  12. “Of course I know the Second Amendment says the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. But it also says it in the context of ‘a well-regulated militia,’ and never states there is a right to bear ‘all’ arms anyone has manufactured.

    I guess Drake didn’t get the memo; the 2A is not about preserving the right to take game, it is about guaranteeing the people access to common weapons suitable for use in defense against hostile military forces, be they foreign or domestic.

    “In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a ‘shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length’ at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense. Aymette v. State of Tennessee, 2 Humph., Tenn., 154, 158. . . With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such [militia] forces, the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view. – United States v. Miller (No. 696) 26 F.Supp. 1002, reversed (1939).

    What the Court was saying is that arms that do not have military utility are not those the 2A was intended to protect, and common arms that do have military utility are those to which the constitutional guarantee attaches.

    Kelly, you appear to be unclear on the concept. The NRA is right on point.

  13. I bet there’s a few people in Ferguson Missouri that would disagree with the author of this article.

  14. “No one needs a military-style weapon to hunt game animals.”

    Mr. Drake has stepped on the third rail of journalism vis a vis firearms. To begin with, assault-style rifles record barely a blip in crime statistics, and genuine assault rifles virtually none at all. The recent Oklahoma jihadist used a knife, with a pump shotgun used in a military base mass killing earlier. And the true weapon of choice for homicides is handguns, handguns, handguns, practically never used in poaching incidents. Following World Wars I and II, millions of hunters turned to “military-style weapons” to hunt with. Mauser 98s, Springfield ’03s, even the proletarian Moisin-Nagant, and more, have been taken up by hunters, who converted them into “sporters,” with a huge percentage of those rifles still in circulation. Arguably, these firearms have ended far more lives than the demonized AK; and what Mr. Drake is actually saying is that “No one needs a military-style weapon, that I don’t like the looks of, to hunt game animals”–what about non-game? Nobody needs a Ferrari for transportation; and those who do, to carry through with the implications of Mr. Drakes contention, are (expletive deleted). That way, the myth of necessity, leads Skoda automobiles and Mao jackets, not to mention the regimentation of thought, if not desire.

  15. Military-style… military-style…military-style…military-style…

    Would the author be just as incensed had the criminals used Ranch-style rifles? Or Colonial-style rifles?

    Get off it, already.

  16. Military-style… military-style…military-style…military-style…

    Would the author be just as incensed had the criminals used Ranch-style rifles? Or Colonial-style rifles?

    Get off it, already.

  17. I definitely agree that “there’s no justification for them to be used for home defense.” In fact, the best weapon for home defense is bear spray. Cocked and ready-to-fire canisters can be kept (safely) near every door, it doesn’t require perfect aim (in the dark, for instance), and it will immediately immobilize an intruder — which a bullet often won’t. Plus, it’s not a very effective weapon for suicide, and relatively safe when accidentally discharged — the most common causes of household gun deaths.

    1. brot is welcome to keep all the bear spray in his home that he wants. As long as he doesn’t attempt to make my decision about my family and their safety for me that is fine with me.

  18. If only the readership of WyoFile got equally inspired and fired up over other important Wyoming issues besides gun berserkers to comment so profusely, at depth , till they run out of literary ammo….

    My questions about this heinous incident are why the public was kept out of the loop when the perps were still out there and maybe still firing away ? It seems like the first news accounts came out three days later when that should’ve been three hours. Are not the eyes and ears of the public critical in drawing a bead on wanton wildlife offendors? Was Wyoming Highway Patrol and law enforcement statewide given a BOLO for the suspect vehicle ? Did anyone else in Wyoming know to look for the maroon Nissan Xterra SUV with four perps and red letters on a white licenseplate if it came their way ? Why hasn’t the body count been released? Why are the agencies so close lipped about this — do they fear the backlash or blowback from the same gun absolutionists that Kerry Drake refers to ? Was there ever a public safety concern ?

    It does not appear the initial response and immediate follow thru on this outrageous incident was handled well, until I hear otherwise.

  19. The Romans would have called this article textbook “Divide et impera” divide and rule. Lenin, the greatest progressive and democrat of the 20th century would welcome the help of such a “useful idiot.”

  20. “No one needs a military-style weapon to hunt game animals.”
    The only true statement in all this drivel.
    We NEED military-style weapons to combat military style enemies. Should citizens sit around waiting for an “official” with military style weapons to protect us? What if the enemy is agents of our own government? 150,000,000 people were murdered by their own govenments in the last 100 years. Every single genocide started with passing laws to disarm the citizenry.

    1. Hate to disagree with you, Harry, but even that statement isn’t true. It’s not a “Bill of Needs or Necessities”, it’s a BILL OF RIGHTS. It’s also a limitation upon “government”.

    2. Hate to disagree with you, Harry, but even that statement isn’t true. It’s not a “Bill of Needs or Necessities”, it’s a BILL OF RIGHTS. It’s also a limitation upon “government”.

  21. Drake sounds like a five year old on his first tricycle writing about the concerns of the infrastructure and policies for an effective commuter highway system. He is clueless about his subject.

    I’d bet that if asked ten, simple factual questions about firearms he’d get every one wrong.

    The AR and AK platform are considered by the actual experts as some of the best rifles for hunting that one can use.

    Read http://jack-burton.hubpages.com/hub/Assault-Weapons-Evil-Black-Rifles-or-perhaps-not and find out more in five minutes than Drakes has learned in a lifetime.

  22. Re: “there’s no justification for them to be used for home defense”

    I disagree. When it comes to home defense (like any self-defense situation) the last thing I want to do is shoot someone because every bullet has a lawyer attracted to it. Hence, I want a firearm that allows me to intimidate or control a potential intruder without firing a shot and a good way to do that is to have a scary looking firearm that will scare the crap out of them. In that regard there aren’t too many firearms more scary and more recognizable than an AK-47 with a 30 round magazine. I would also add a suppressor because they are also scary and I don’t want loose my hearing if I ever have to fire it in a closed space.

  23. Don’t mix idiots doing an illegal act with the NRA. Recently in California a couple of idiots went into a chicken ranch and killed over 900 chickens with golf clubs. Shall we condemn the PGA and complain about Ping? No, I think not. Hold the idiots accountable for their illegal foolish acts. Your biased mind may not be able to separate acts and actors from loosely related topics. The same path of non-logical thinking would lead use to jump to lots of concussions. One might be able to find a nexus between gay men and AIDS, Ebola and Africans, and Charles Manson’s marijuana smoking and the muders of the Tate family.
    Try condemning the actors and their actions. Stop attempting to sling mud and push an agenda by expoliting the actions of outliers and idiots. I am not sure if you consider yourself a journalist, author, or entertainer.

  24. Re: “Even when assault weapons are used by the criminally insane to shoot politicians…”

    The facts are in 2010 there were about 8775 people murdered by firearms in the US which works out to about 24 people per day (See http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10tbl20.xls). These are the “word doctored” figures the news media and anti-gun folks like to publicize because people relate to the magnitude of those numbers and it sounds like a lot of people until you realize this is out of a population of 310 million Americans. In that context, it works out to about 1 person out of every 35,000 people being murdered by a firearm. Dwell on the magnitude of your individual significance next time you are in a stadium with 35,000 people. To me, 1 in 35,000 is an acceptable cost to help ensure the security of a free state and the right to own a firearm that has harmed no one. If 1 in 35,000 is too high, how about 1 in 860,000. That’s about the number of people that can be accommodated by 10 Dallas Cowboy stadiums. Would that be acceptable? That is the equivalent number of people (358 out of 310 million Americans) that were murdered with a rifle in 2010 (The AK47 is considered a type of rifle for you non-gun folks). To me, 1 in 860,000 is an acceptable cost to help ensure the security of a free state and the right to own a semi-automatic AK47 or AR15 rifle with a standard 30 round magazine that has harmed no one. If that is not an acceptable cost, than what is? Given the fact that murderers are an intrinsic part of the human race, what number would ever satisfy you to the point you would say “we don’t need any more restrictions on the private ownership of firearms”? If all the guns were banned, do you really think that would stop a person who is determined to kill a lot of people? Human beings adapt to situations and constraints – it’s called tactics. As an example the Sandy Hook killer probably chose the rifle (AR15) because it was available and met his needs. Ban all the guns and a determined individual could have used something else and there are a lot of other options thanks to the Internet. If you think this was a horrific crime, imagine the carnage and suffering if he had used a homemade flamethrower and accomplished the task in half the time. What would you do then? Ban gasoline and plumbing parts?

    1. There is the problem. You are part of the culture who no longer thinks of human beings in terms of life, living, or even have any moral respect for life. You are the problem. You see people as statistics. Not one life should be taken for any reason. I grew up in rural Illinois and born in 1942. Guns were banned everywhere except for hunting like shotguns or rifles. Few owned them. As a child and even into adulthood I never read or heard of anyone being shot and killed. Until some lunatic killed President Kennedy. There was crime in other large cities. Especially places like Texas and New York. My childhood was happily spent playing outside until dark and not fearing anyone or anything. Doors never had to be locked. Now we have a gun crazy culture that makes it impossible for me to go to my church because of the gun toting worshippers. I also don’t go to movies nor restaurants. And this is in WY for the last 28 years. If you think a gun will save your life you are sadly mistaken . You will die like everyone else. And God won’t help you if you have killed another human being for any reason. To people like you jsmith, life has become cheap and worthless. Just a statistic.

      1. “Not one life should be taken for any reason.” Interesting. I don’t have the
        right to defend myself, or others for that matter. Your parting statement
        with regard to God not helping anyone if they have killed leads directly to
        the conclusion that God is NOT forgiving. Interesting, indeed.

        Translated from the original Hebrew: Thou shalt not murder.
        From the Hebrew: Murder is the taking of innocent life.
        From the Hebrew: Innocent life is any life unable to defend their self.

        “Thou shalt not kill.” Was a translation based on several intervening
        translations from which etymological morphology ultimately altered the
        original meaning.

        If you are defending yourself, you are permitted to do so. Thus capital
        punishment is forbidden as the executed are unable to defend themselves.
        Likewise are the unborn. Contrast with an attacker about to take a life.
        Not innocent by any means. From this springs the right to defend oneself,
        or for an army to defend a country’s citizens while under attack.

        It’s so simple.

        1. I agree with everything you say except the bit about capital punishment. Capital punishment is Biblically approved.

      2. Re: “problem”

        The “problem” you have is that in 2010 (for example) there were 725000 violent criminals in state prisons and 15000 in federal prisons (see tables 10 and 11 at http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p11.pdf). This works out to a total of 740000 or about 0.238% of the US population which means that about 1 out of every 420 people in the US that have been caught have no qualms about ignoring whatever laws you pass and killing or injuring someone. So the bottom line is (1) The human race produces a few bad individuals prone to violence who just refuse to play by whatever rules you promulgate and until you find some way to identify these individuals and the courage to permanently eliminate them from society, innocent people are going to be killed (2) Because of these bad individuals, bad things happen every day to people who through no fault of their own were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    2. Re: “As a child and even into adulthood I never read or heard of anyone being shot and killed”

      Your statement verifies guns are not the problem. The first semi-automatic handgun was invented in the late 1800’s and the most popular version went into production in 1911. It is also noted the so-called evil “assault rifles” with standard capacity 30 round magazines are not new technology. The original version was invented by the Germans near the end of WWII and the current versions were invented in the late 1940’s and have always been available to the public (note the “47” in AK-47 stands for 1947, the year the firearm went into production). As a matter of fact fully automatic versions (i.e. machine guns), which are true military grade rifles, were available to the general public until 1986 and background checks on firearm transfers weren’t required until 1994 – yet nobody talks about mass shootings with any version (semi-automatic or automatic) of these guns during the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s so it’s a relatively new phenomenon and logic would indicate it’s being caused by something else.

  25. Re: “a well-regulated militia”

    In the 1700’s well regulated meant “to make regular” or “be in good working order” which in today’s military parlance is often referred to as maintaining good order and discipline. See

    http://constitution.org/cons/wellregu.htm

    Also, even though you didn’t mention it, according to current US law, there are 2 types of militias and the National Guard is only one of them – see 10 USC 311
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/311

  26. Re: “common sense”

    In 1934, 1968, 1986, 1990, 1993 and 1994 I suspect similar arguments were made for “common sense” when more restrictive gun laws were passed. Since all of the regulations derived from these laws are apparently not enough, maybe you can understand the reluctance of gun owners to entertain the idea of quietly accepting the any more. The problem is the real agenda of the people who are leading the charge for more gun control is to ban all guns except for the government and governments (unlike individuals) have the track record for killing people that don’t agree with them. The reality is closing the so called gun show loophole or banning “assault weapons” has nothing to do with keeping people safe – it’s about using relatively infrequent, isolated incidents of gun violence to whip lawmakers into an emotional frenzy to goad them into quickly advancing the agenda of gun control irrespective of any facts in more incremental “progressive” steps in order to set a new baseline and move the goal posts to the point where an unscrupulous government government would have the option to do what ever they please.

  27. I certainly hope WG&F catches the morons that did this and sends them to Rawlins for a long stint in jail for the absolute disregard for the lives they not only endangered, but the lives they took. It is flat out appalling.

    Unfortunately stupid acts like this bring forth more regulations from the left – ie, Mr. Drake’s rant about the NRA and so called assault weapons. While I did not read the entire comment from “County 10” that Mr. Drake refers to above, County 10 is right on point with his comment:

    “Why even bring the absurd and meaningless political construct ‘assault rifle’ into the
    discussion? Some criminal/fool shot and wasted (poached) some antelope. The type of firearm (or bow even) is mmaterial. The crime is in the action, not in the perceived ‘scariness’ of the firearm used.”

    These morons could have used a multitude of different weapons and killed the same number of antelope. Pistols, shot guns, cross bow……You specifically chose to highlight the weapon “from what was described as an AK 47” and direct the discussion towards your own biased left agenda. You yourself are a pawn in the political game.

    Let’s focus on the issue – wanton waste and stupidity – and not fan the political flames because you want even more regulations and control. It’s not just about guns Mr. Drake, its about the continuous taking of our legal rights in this country by the liberal element.
    One by one we lose our freedoms because the liberal left seems to think they know what is good for us.

    You could use the same scenario to take away citizen rights to drive a car – morons have used pick-up trucks to run down antelope and other animals in this state in the past – just as appalling. Just as dangerous – journalists that use about half the facts and twist the story around to support their liberal left agenda.

    Let’s focus on the issue, find the stupid morons that did this and throw not on only the book, but entire library at them so it never happens again. Tea Party, liberals, conservatives – political opinions are irrelevant – stupidity is universally understood.

  28. Re: “overwhelmingly (90 percent in some national polls) believe the government has the right to perform background checks for all gun purchases”

    These polls where large numbers of people support background checks ask questions like “Do you favor or oppose a federal law requiring background checks on all potential gunbuyers “? That is not the same question that is relevant with regard to the proposed federal gun legislation that failed to pass the US Senate which is “do you support or oppose US Senate Bill 649 or any of its amendments”? Read the bill (SB-649) and the amendments. The title of the bill is word doctored to be innocuous but the devil is in the details and what was being proposed as part of the background check process was a litany of vague, abstruse and onerous restrictions on friends and family members that could trip them up and subject them to intimidation and entrapment by overzealous and unscrupulous authorities who are aligned with an anti-gun agenda. In addition, the hastily written Toomey amendment was worded in such a way that existing gun laws that currently protect gun owners (like a prohibiting a registry) could be circumvented by the President simply having the BATF report to DHS instead of the Attorney General.

    If the totality of what you really want is universal background checks, the answer is simple and easy – give anyone free, anonymous, public access to the federal NICS background check database of persons prohibited from owning firearms and then tell private sellers if you sell or give a firearm to someone and don’t retain a piece of paper that documents you did a favorable NICS check on the buyer, you could be held liable if they commit a gun-related crime. There is no reason to get the government involved any further in the process unless you have other goals in mind like a federal registry of all firearms.

    1. To me there were two problem issues with Manchin-Toomey”.
      First is the closed nature of the NICS database making it necessary to pay a fee to a third party “licensed gun dealer” to access it, an indirect “poll tax”.
      The second is best seen by rephrasing the bit about the forbidding the BATF from creating a national database of lawful gun owners. It basically said that any other department of the US Government is Authorized to create such a database and use it however they wanted to.

      No lawful gun owner is willing to commit a felony by transferring a gun or ammunition to a violent criminal or lunatic. As a group we would love to be able to spend a few minutes on the phone and ensure that the person wanting to buy a gun we want to sell is legally able to do so.

  29. Why not stronger laws when that rifle is used like hunting. Don’t punish gun owner for actions of others. Those that are reasonable should not be offended. Make the punishment harsher